Title: The Complement of Hell
Disclaimer: Someone else owns them... sigh....
Author's Notes: This really is what ladyamarra asked for but that's a spoiler so the request is at the end. Many thanks to mezzo_cammin for the beta and finding the huge plot hole!
Summary: Life goes on after your military boyfriend breaks up with you. Sort of.
"I didn't!" John protested and then sighed. He rubbed his forehead as if he had a headache but Rodney figured he was looking for sympathy. Well, Rodney was not going to fall for that today. Maybe not ever again.
"Yes, you did!" Rodney snarled.
"I..." John stopped. "Forget it. I need you to go back there with us to complete the trade deal."
"And I don't want to see a repeat of last time," Rodney said firmly.
"Nothing happened!" John ground out, showing his frustration.
Rodney crossed his arms and glared. John threw up his arms – in disgust or surrender -- and left the lab where Rodney had been working without saying anything more.
Rodney watched John stalk down the hall, a mix of regret and depression running through him. Knowing there was nothing he could do, he turned back to the simulation he had been running. He stared at the screen, not really seeing the result flowing across the screen.
"Fuck!" Rodney shook himself. He saved the results to look at later and shut down the computer. It was late and he was the only one left in the labs. John... Sheppard, used to wait around and make sure he quit at a reasonable hour, especially on nights before missions. Sometimes they'd get a snack in the mess before calling it a night. Then they would... Rodney shut the thought down ruthlessly.
Walking the corridors back to his room, Rodney ignored the Marines on patrol and the looks they gave him. It came with the territory.
His room was dark as he entered; he upped the lights to make it bright enough to see yet not too bright that it would keep him awake. He dropped his clothes in the basket in the corner, making a mental note that he needed to do laundry again. Maybe he could get Teyla to get the rest of his clothes for him....
The shower in the small bathroom had plenty of hot water but he wished briefly for the tub in the other apartment. He could use a long soak in hot water to relieve some of the tension in his back. He put on clean boxers and pulled a t-shirt over his head.
He swallowed the last of the sleeping pills he had cadged from Beckett two days ago. At least he would get some rest even if it wouldn't be peaceful. He crawled into the cold bed, pulled the sheet over him and closed his eyes to sleep.
And... fell into a dream. One he knew he wouldn't remember enough of in the morning. But it involved John... John whose eyes lit up at the sight of Rodney... John who smiled at him, a special smile that Rodney knew was only for him... John close to him, skin touching skin...
In the morning, Rodney's eyes were gritty and the dream was fading as he became aware. By the time he heaved himself out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom, he had forgotten it completely. He leaned on the sink and peered into the mirror. The bags under his eyes had grown and his skin looked gray. He looked like crap, even to himself.
Another long, hot shower helped Rodney feel semi-human even if he didn't look much better. He left his room and went to the mess for breakfast.
"Purple things again?" Rodney protested in dismay.
"Sorry, Dr. McKay the dieticians said we need to push the stuff," the man behind the counter replied with a small shrug. "It's got vitamins that evidently we all need. The sun here doesn't build vitamin D quite the way we're used to on Earth. So... purple things." Rodney knew all that and why they kept repeating it something he'd never understand.
"Just... no," Rodney refused. He looked down the line. "What else is there?"
"It's in pretty much everything today," the man replied. "Even the muffins. Cereal is about all that's left."
Rodney wanted to turn around and leave but he needed coffee if nothing else and he knew he was running through his stash for the lab too fast. He needed to have a couple of cups here before he went to his lab.
"Bran flakes, great," Rodney muttered to himself. At least it wasn't pure sugar like Fruit Loops that John... He stopped and took a deep breath.
Grimly, he poured himself two bowls of the cereal and put three cups of coffee on his tray. He took a table against the far wall where he was less likely to be disturbed by anyone. He ignored Sheppard and Teyla laughing over something Torren must have done. He knew he wouldn't be welcome so didn't even make an effort to join them. He ate his cereal, drank the coffee and, taking another cup of coffee with him, headed to the lab.
"No offense, but you look like hell," Zelenka said as Rodney entered the lab. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," Rodney growled.
"You are not," Zelenka said gently. "I think you need to see Carson."
Rodney glared but Zelenka glared back, refusing to back down.
"I just need some aspirin and more coffee," Rodney negotiated. "I'm fine."
"If you aren't looking better by lunchtime, I'm calling Carson," Zelenka threatened.
"Okay, okay," Rodney waved him off. "Did you get the results from that last power simulation?"
Zelenka reluctantly took the hint and they talked about the project they had been working on to re-power a ZedPM. It was high on Rodney's list to work on but kept getting ignored in the day-to-day work that needed to be done in the city.
Rodney took more aspirin before lunchtime and debated whether he wanted to go to the mess or eat one of the MREs he had stashed in his office. He decided the MRE had to be better than the purple stew he was sure was on the menu. He started another pot of coffee and ate the MRE while looking over personnel files he needed to update.
Sheppard appeared in the door of his office.
"We have a briefing in half an hour," he stated neutrally. "Will you be there?"
"I'll be there," Rodney answered. Sheppard just stood in the doorway, looking like he wanted to lean but was resisting. Rodney missed the leaning John... Sheppard used to do.
"Half an hour," Sheppard repeated firmly.
"I got it!" Rodney snapped.
"Okay," Sheppard said and left without saying anything else.
Rodney set a timer to go off in twenty minutes so he wouldn't get distracted and forget the time. He took more aspirin as the headache threatened to become overwhelming.
He jumped when the timer went off. He shut it down and went back to finish the evaluation in front of him. Two minutes...
"McKay, you coming?" Sheppard's voice growled in his ear.
"What? Oh, right. Yes, on my way," Rodney babbled, disconcerted. Shit! He was late! He shut down the file and grabbed the laptop he wanted for the meeting. He hurried to the conference room.
Sheppard didn't look up as he entered but Teyla frowned at him. "Rodney, are you feeling unwell?" she asked.
This was Teyla. He shouldn't snap at her. He took a deep breath and replied calmly, "I'm fine. It's just a headache that I can't shake."
She gave him a I will humor you – for now look that he knew too well.
Woolsey cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. Rodney slipped into a seat next to Teyla.
"Are we set for the trade with the Xyrica?" Woolsey asked.
"Dr. Beckett is organizing medical supplies, he and one of the nurses will come with us to administer vaccines," Sheppard reported.
"Then why isn't he here and why am I?" Rodney put in. "I have things to do rather than gallivanting all over the galaxy."
"The Xyricans are expecting our team to return, Rodney, and it is best if we all do so," Teyla said calmly but shot him a look that told him she knew he had not been paying attention at the debriefing on the previous mission. "For this first return, we will accompany Dr. Beckett and his team. After this, we will be better able to send other teams."
Rodney hrumph'd. "All right, all right," he muttered only slightly abashed. There hadn't been anything to interest him on Xyricka and going back had no special attraction. In fact, there was something... someone he wanted no part of. He was only going because he knew they'd get some tormack out of it as well as tava beans. At least there wasn't anything purple in this trade. Then he really would refuse to go and fuck the trade.
Woolsey, Sheppard and Teyla talked on for a bit more, Rodney tuning them out as his headache grew. Suddenly, everyone was standing up to leave.
"Rodney, walk with me," Teyla commanded.
Since there was no way to refuse, Rodney walked along with Teyla and followed her to the infirmary.
"Dr. McKay has a headache and needs some medication," she told the nurse on duty. "I would like Dr. Beckett to take a look at him."
"I don't need Beckett for a fucking headache!" Rodney shouted. When Teyla just looked at him, he realized what he had just done and had to give in. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"You are in pain and need treatment," Teyla said soothingly. "You are not yourself."
"I...." Rodney started to protest but stopped when Teyla put a gently hand on his arm.
"Rodney, you need help," Teyla repeated softly. "Let us help you."
Rodney sighed. "All right," he agreed reluctantly.
"Hop up on the bed," the nurse directed cheerfully.
"There is no hopping in me," Rodney huffed. But he sat on the bed she indicated. He was grateful that Teyla did not leave him alone.
Carson bustled in, "Now what's wrong with ye?"
Teyla moved forward. "Rodney says he has a headache but he has been in pain for several days."
Carson looked startled. "Rodney?"
"It's just a headache," Rodney said. He didn't want to whine. Well, maybe just a little.
"I'll be the judge of that," Carson retorted. He turned to the nurse, "Let's get a full workup to see how he is."
"Right here!" Rodney called.
"Yes, you are," Carson said absently, patting his arm. He put a stethoscope on Rodney's chest and listened. "When did you eat last?"
"I had bran flakes at breakfast and an MRE at lunch," Rodney told him.
"Coffee?" Carson moved the stethoscope to another location.
"Of course!" Rodney replied defensively.
Carson hmmm'd a bit and then said, "Okay, wait here."
"If I have to," Rodney protested, mostly out of habit. Sitting still felt too good. He closed his eyes.
"Rodney," Teyla said softly in his ear. "You need to sit up for me."
"Huh?" Rodney mumbled. Then realized Teyla was holding his weight and he was in danger of falling off the bed. "Srry..." He tried to inch back.
"Lie back," she commanded. "You will be more comfortable."
"Don' wanna sleep," Rodney protested. "Dream... bad..."
"Sleep," she said softly. "I will stay with you." She placed a warm hand on his shoulder to guide him down and sat in the chair next to the bed.
"'k," Rodney muttered.
Voices woke him. He could hear Sheppard's voice ... the words were indistinct but he could tell the man was complaining about something, probably him. Like he had lately.
"I'm awake," Rodney grumbled. But he didn't want to move. Days of not sleeping well had left him logy – this was the first good sleep he had in ages. He just wanted to go back to sleep but he knew that there was a mission this afternoon. He needed to get up....
Rodney woke slowly the next time. The room and the infirmary were dark. As he stirred, Ronon sat up in the chair next to the bed.
"Awake?" Ronon asked.
"Think so," Rodney got out.
"Doc left some water." Ronon got up and reached for the pitcher of water and poured Rodney some. "Sit up."
Rodney groggily moved around so he was better able to sit up and Ronon made sure he was steady before handing him the cup. Rodney drank thirstily.
"Thanks," he handed back the cup. He looked around. "What time is it?"
"Middle of the night," Ronon answered.
"The mission..." Rodney began.
"Teyla and Sheppard went with Lorne's team to explain and reschedule," Ronon said easily."Teyla needed to be there to talk to the Xyricka so she asked me to stay with you."
"Ummm, sorry?" Rodney was embarrassed that he needed a baby-sitter. On the other hand, he was grateful for the good sleep. He felt almost rested.
Ronon shrugged. "No big deal," he said. "I'll get the doc."
Before Rodney could stop him Ronon had left the room. He came back shortly with the night nurse... Nathalie... good hands, he remembered.
"Sitting up, that's good," she said with a smile. "Bathroom?"
Rodney suddenly needed to pee. "Yes," he nodded.
"Okay, let me grab a wheelchair," she said. Then looked at Rodney and pointed, "Stay there, you were a mess."
"I...." he swallowed. "Okay."
Rodney was glad for the ride in the end. It wasn't far but the effort to get out of the bed showed him that he wasn't up to much at the moment. He managed to pee and wash his face on his own but was glad for the wheelchair to get back. Rodney stripped off his t-shirt and took off his pants to get down to his boxers. Someone had taken off his shoes and socks for him at some point. Ronon helped him back into the bed.
"Here," Nathalie said, handing him a large cup. "You need to drink this and then you can sleep more."
"What is it?" Rodney asked, suspicious.
"Mostly a protein shake," she admitted. "But I made sure they added enough sugar to make it taste really good."
Rodney took the tumbler reluctantly and took a mouthful. Chocolate! "This is pretty good," he admitted.
"Finish it up and then you can lie down for a couple more hours," she directed.
"I won't sleep," Rodney objected. "I haven't slept this much in ages."
"You have a major sleep deficit," Nathalie pointed out. "With some food you should sleep some more."
Rodney swallowed more of the drink. He was suddenly hungry and kept drinking. He finished it off quickly and stared forlornly at the empty container.
"It's got enough protein and fiber that you'll be fine until morning," Nathalie took the tumbler from him. "Too much will make you gassy, anyway."
"Oh, okay," Rodney gave in. He yawned. "You didn't put anything else in there, did you?"
"Nope, promise," she held up her hand to show scout's honor. "Just natural reaction to being warm and fed. Go back to sleep now."
Rodney looked around and was glad to see Ronon still hanging around. Ronon understood the look and said, "I'll be here. You sleep."
Yawning, Rodney lay back down and before he knew it, fell asleep again.
It was daylight when Rodney woke next and Teyla was with him. Rodney felt faintly embarrassed that he needed someone to watch over him to get a good night's sleep but they helped keep the dreams away and he was just going to be grateful.
"Good morning," Teyla said gently. "How are you today?"
"Better," he admitted. "Ummm... thank you."
"I need to take care of Torren," she said. "Will you be all right now?"
"Sure, go," Rodney assured her. "It's... at night. In the daytime, I'm okay."
"We should go back to Xyricka today," Teyla said. "After lunch.Will you be up to that or should we postpone?"
"I'll be fine," Rodney assured her. "We can go. We might as well get it over with."
"I will let Mr. Woolsey know," Teyla said. "And I will see you later."
Carson came in as Teyla was leaving. "Ah! Rodney, feeling better?"
"Yes, Carson," Rodney replied patiently. "When can I get out of here?"
"That's our Rodney!" Carson exclaimed. "I want to make sure you eat some breakfast and I want another set of blood tests before you go. But it shouldn't take long." He looked at Rodney's chart. "And I want you to check in before and after this mission."
"You'll be with us!" Rodney protested.
"I won't be paying attention to you," Carson explained. "I'll have my own work to do."
"All right, all right," Rodney placated the doctor.
"Now, you told me you had breakfast and lunch yesterday but you were on the verge of a major hypoglycemic attack. If you really had been eating, you shouldn't have been in such bad shape," Carson said gently.
"But I did eat," Rodney protested. "I don't know what's going on."
"Well, you need to eat here before you go and I want to see you at lunch before the mission," Carson directed. "No MRE in the lab."
"I guess," Rodney agreed. Eating in the mess wasn't his favorite activity at the moment but Carson would track him down if he didn't. He'd manage.
Breakfast in the infirmary was better than what had been in the mess yesterday, even if there was no coffee, and Rodney ate it all. The protein shake in the middle of the night helped settle his stomach and he made a mental note to get some of whatever made that up for his own stash.
The day nurse filled multiple vials with Rodney's blood and then told Rodney he could leave. Someone had brought him clothes at some point, so he got dressed. He needed a shower before he went to the labs.
The same unknown someone had taken his basket of dirty clothes away and moved some of his clean clothes from the other apartment. Teyla, he hoped. He'd ask her later about his laundry. The shower and clean underwear made him feel even better. He packed a backpack for the mission later and dropped it off in the ready room near the Gate.
"You look better," Zelenka said as Rodney came into the lab.
"I guess," Rodney tried but when Zelenka glared at him, admitted, "Okay, yes. But don't tell anyone."
"Secret is safe with me," Zelenka grinned.
"Anything stupid happen while I was gone?" Rodney asked.
"Graziano put a power crystal into a transfer station backwards," Zelenka sighed. "Fortunately did not harm station but he burnt one hand pretty severely and will be out of commission for several days."
"He can follow Miko around and fetch things for her while he's on light duty," Rodney decided.
Miko loved having someone as a 'minion' and Rodney routinely made whoever was in the dog house work for her. Not that Miko took advantage – well, not too much – she simply made the current minion follow her around for as long as Rodney wanted. She was also relentless about making sure whomever Rodney sent to her understood what they had done wrong and learned from it.
Ronon came and got him for lunch. They went through the line together – nothing purple today, Rodney was glad to see -- and when Rodney moved to the table against the wall, Ronon simply followed without question. Teyla and Torren sat with Sheppard at their 'team' table near the windows.
"Mission to Xyricka in two hours," Ronon reminded him as they bussed their trays.
Rodney rubbed his forehead briefly. "I have to see Carson first," Rodney remembered. "I'll go there and meet you in the Gate room."
"Sure," Ronon agreed.
Carson was busy checking his packing for the mission. "Ah! Rodney, right on time," Carson greeted him. "Hop up on the table so I can check you out."
"Like I've said before, there is no hopping in me," Rodney complained as he climbed on the bed.
"It's just a phrase," Carson said patiently. "Okay, let me check you out."
Rodney pulled off his uniform shirt to get down to his t-shirt and sat patiently as Carson checked his blood pressure, shone a flashlight in his eyes and took several more vials of blood.
"You're good to go," Carson announced.
"Thank god," Rodney replied.
"I do want to see you after the mission for an extended physical," Carson warned him.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Rodney replied sarcastically.
"Go," Carson pointed to the door. "I have to finish getting ready."
Rodney put his shirt back on, glad for the warmth. He left the infirmary and debated. He was too early to report to the Gate room, there really wasn't enough time to go to the labs and there was nothing else he was interested in doing. He wandered slowly through the halls of Atlantis with no destination in mind.
"McKay, you coming?" Sheppard's exasperated voice came over the comm.
"Sorry, got distracted," Rodney replied. "On my way."
Rodney got into the nearest transporter which let him out right outside the Gateroom. He took the TAC vest Ronon held out to him and he picked up his backpack and weapon. He strapped the handgun onto his leg and slung the P-90 over his shoulder.
"Ready!" Rodney announced.
Sheppard ignored him while Ronon checked his TAC vest. Something Sheppard would normally have done... before. Rodney took a deep breath.
"You're good," Ronon declared.
Carson and the nurse... Norah something... were fussing with their packs so Rodney didn't feel too bad about being almost-late. Finally Sheppard decided everyone was ready and signaled to Chuck to dial the Gate.
P47-23K, known locally as Xyricka, was on the warm end of the spectrum without actually being hot, at least in the area around the gate. The Gate was located at the bottom of a narrow ravine which helped protect the population somewhat from the Wraith. Jumpers traveling at a crawl could get through without crashing into the opposite side but a Wraith Dart would more than likely simply smash into the wall. The high walls also made for good defensive positions. The generally arid climate kept the population down naturally and Teyla had theorized that the since there was more profit elsewhere, the Wraith simply had not bothered to cull this particular planet from space.
Rodney put on his floppy hat that would protect the back of his neck from sun on the walk to the village. It was fortunately an easy walk and just about a mile. Rodney had bitched about the walk the first time, this time he kept his mouth shut since he knew there would be no sympathy.
Sheppard and Teyla took point, Carson and his nurse were in the middle, Rodney hung back with Ronon to bring up the rear.
Just outside the village, a small group of Xyricans met them. All were tall, dusky skinned and wearing little clothing as befit the warm climate. The women had the equivalent of bikini's – Rodney wondered idly where the concept of bras came from in Pegasus – and the men in loin cloths or shorts. This group was lean and fit and extremely good looking, much to Rodney's annoyance, although the fitness was appropriate to the group that guarded the Gate. He knew there were elders in the village
"Welcome!" the leader --Offia, Rodney finally recalled her name -- said. "Good to see you again, Colonel Sheppard, Teyla, Ronon, Dr. McKay!" She flashed a smile aimed at Sheppard.
"Good to see you again," Teyla replied. "We apologize again for the delay. Dr. McKay is feeling better and, as you can see, has traveled with us today."
"We are glad you have recovered," Offia replied with a small frown. The words and her body language didn't quite jive. Ronon shifted slightly which made Rodney think that he had picked up the same discrepancy.
"I would like to introduce Dr. Beckett and his assistant Norah Bending," Teyla introduced the medical team. "They are here to help the children so they do not get what Dr. Beckett calls whooping cough. He and Nurse Bending have medications for that."
"Hello," Carson stepped forward and nodded greeting. "We are verra glad to be able to help you."
"We also are grateful for your help," Offia replied gravely. "We lost too many children last year to this illness and it would be good for all if we can help them."
She turned to the rest of her group and introduced, "Colonel, you have met the others but this is Irie, Naan, Binda and Cella. Binda is interested in what you have for our children for he is our Healer and would like to learn more." Each nodded as he or she was introduced. "Come, we will go to the village."
Offia walked along side Sheppard and monopolized his time on the walk. Binda escorted Beckett and the nurse, both sides trading information along the way. Thankfully, the walk to the settlement was relatively short from that point and in less than half an hour they were in the village.
"We have gathered the children in the meeting place," Offia explained. "Dr. Beckett, do let us know if you need anything."
Carson nodded. "Water, if you can," he replied. "Water that has been boiled would be better."
"There is a fire pit near the meeting place that we can use," Binda indicated. "I will have the older boys bring the water from the river and we can set it heating while you set up."
"That will do nicely," Carson replied. "Thank you."
As the teenaged boys got buckets, Rodney followed their progress. They simply threw the buckets into the river – well, there were places on Earth the water would be called a stream -- and struggled to carry the water to the village.
"I can help with that if you want," Rodney offered. It would at least keep him busy. "There is an easier way to bring water from a river than that."
"What do you have in mind, McKay?" Ronon asked.
"It's a simple pump system," Rodney admitted. "A pump at the water end and some pipes will let them at least bring water to a central location so they don't have to carry it so far. I don't have the tools but a water wheel would be self pumping if the water flows more at other times. But it's flat enough that at least they don't need to pump too much uphill once they get over the initial rise." He pointed to the edge of a small ridge. "Downhill from there."
"In the cooler weather, when it rains in the hills, there is more water in the river," Naan offered. "We have to be careful not to lose animals to the fast moving waters."
"If the village stays in this location, it may be worthwhile to dig a will or a cistern to store water for later in the year," Ronon agreed, unexpectedly. "Wood is probably at a premium but we can see what there is to serve as piping while you look to see about a pump at the river's edge."
Rodney looked at Ronon who simply grinned back at him.
"Okay, Dr. Conan," Rodney declared. "Let's get this done."
Rodney ignored Sheppard and whatever flirting he was doing with that Offia person while he and Ronon worked to set up the pump and piping. Ronon surprised Rodney with several practical suggestions on the structure that would support the pipes.
As they worked, Rodney explained to Naan what they were doing, knowing that several of the Xyricans were listening carefully. Ronon threw in good questions to help clarify anything Rodney didn't break down far enough. The Xyricans weren't stupid, Rodney knew, but they had been living hand to mouth over the years so that there was really no one who knew a written language – everything was passed on orally. The pump was pretty much a temporary set-up, cobbled together with parts Naan came up with and items from Rodney's and Ronon's packs. They'd have to come back with some materials to help make a permanent device.
"You!" Rodney pointed to one of the older boys hanging around. "Try this." Rodney moved the lever up and down, which moved water from the stream to the 'pipes' – some hollow vines that Naan had suggested. They had set up barrels at the other end to collect the water. "See?" The boy nodded. "Now, you do it."
The boy worked the lever with enthusiasm. "Not so hard," Rodney cautioned. "Firm and steady." Priming the pipes the first time was the hardest part of the work and while it wasn't a lot of water at first, it flowed steadily as the kids took turn pumping the lever.
Rodney wanted to laugh at the amazement on the boys faces at how much simpler it was to move water with the pump system.
"We have not had such for a long time," one of the elders told Rodney. "We have moved around so much that we have not had time to build devices like this. Our thanks."
"It was simple enough," Rodney waved off the thanks.
"Come on," Ronon said. "Looks like there's lunch."
"Always thinking of food," Rodney teased and just grinned when Ronon lifted an eyebrow at him. "Since we have water, I'd like to wash up first." He wasn't terribly dirty, Naan and the kids had done most of the grunt work, but he could stand to wash.
"Good idea," Ronon agreed. They helped themselves to a bucket of water and splashed their faces and arms. Rodney used a bandana he kept in his pack as a towel.
As they re-joined the trading party, Rodney's good mood evaporated like it never existed. John and Offia were sitting close together off to one side and she had her hand resting on John's, moving her thumb back and forth lightly in a caress. John was smiling at something she said, responding by leaning in to whisper in her ear.
"When can we leave?" Rodney asked through gritted teeth. "I... I need to get out of here."
He saw Ronon look sharply at him. "Not until after we eat," he said. "What's wrong?"
Rodney stopped and took a deep breath. He had to close his eyes and concentrate. I can do this. I can do this. It's important to Atlantis.
"McKay!" Ronon called sharply. "You okay?" Ronon put a hand on his shoulder.
"If Colonel Sleeps-Around is done cozying up to the slut pretending to be their leader, we can get this over and done with," Rodney ground out.
"Rodney!" Teyla hissed in his ear. "Watch what you say. We should not offend these people. Colonel Sheppard is doing nothing wrong."
"Oh, no?" Rodney mocked. "If they were any closer together, we'd have to throw water on them to get them apart."
Teyla looked at him, worry in her eyes. "Dr. Beckett? Can you come here?" she called without moving away.
Carson came over and asked, "Yes, lass. What can I help you with?"
"Look at Colonel Sheppard and tell me what you see," she said softly.
"Pardon?" he asked, mystified.
"Look at Colonel Sheppard. What is he doing?" she repeated patiently.
"He's talking to Offia," Carson reported.
"Is Colonel Sheppard doing anything... inappropriate?" Teyla persisted.
"No," Carson laughed. "Not at all. Although I do suspect she has designs on our Colonel." He gave a small laugh.
"But... they're practically sitting in each other's laps!" Rodney protested.
"Nae," Carson replied, looking sharply at Rodney. "There's nothing going on there."
"I know what I see!" Rodney replied. "He's whispering in her ear and she... she has her hands all over him!"
"Perhaps we should let Dr. McKay return to Atlantis," Teyla suggested, putting a hand on his arm.
"No!" Rodney all but shouted at her. He wasn't about to let this... this hussy run him off. He jerked his arm out of Teyla's grasp. "I'm staying."
Suddenly, Sheppard was there. "What's going on?" he asked, trying to keep his voice down.
"You! You're the problem!" Rodney stalked over to Sheppard. He poked Sheppard in the chest with each point. "First you romance me to get into my bed. You even move us in together! Then you throw me out! Now you're playing footsie with Princess Offal over there."
Sheppard grabbed his hand poking his chest. "I did not throw you out, you left!" he hissed. "And I am not playing footsie with anyone."
"You threw me out!" Rodney protested. He remembered the fight they had that night, John complaining about how Rodney was suffocating him and that John just wanted to be alone.
Sheppard stopped and looked closely at Rodney. "Rodney?" he asked softly. "Tell me about it."
Rodney wanted to pull back but Sheppard had a firm grip on his hand. Sighing, he dropped his shoulders in defeat. "We were fighting. Again. I wanted to... I don't remember what I wanted to do, just you didn't want to let me do whatever it was. I remember you shouting at me to just leave you alone. You said Fine, just leave then! when I protested. So, I left."
Sheppard shook his head slightly. "When... when did this happen?"
"Shortly after we were here last time," Rodney replied. "You and Princess Offensive had some private discussion while we were here and that's when I realized you wanted to come back to her."
Sheppard considered. Rodney didn't want to move. Sheppard's hand on his was warm, familiar. He had missed John's touch...
"Ronon," Sheppard said. "Stay with McKay. Teyla, come with me."
Sheppard released Rodney and guided him closer to Ronon. "Stay here," John commanded.
"Okay," Ronon agreed moving in close. Rodney shivered, despite the warmth of the day. Ronon crossed his arms, definitely on guard. Rodney just didn't know what he was guarding against.
Rodney watched in fascination as Sheppard stalked over to where Offia was sitting, Teyla trailing slightly behind. Sheppard stood over the sitting woman and demanded loud enough for Rodney to hear, "What did you do to him?"
"I have no idea what you mean," Offia replied innocently.
"You did something to McKay when we were here last time," Sheppard replied in a grim voice that Rodney knew brooked no good for the woman.
"Colonel," Teyla put a hand on Sheppard's arm. "May I?"
Sheppard looked startled then stepped back. Teyla stepped close to the other woman and Rodney couldn't hear what Teyla said but the look on Offia's face led him to believe it wasn't good. Well, maybe good for them, just not good for Offia. The glum look on her face told Rodney that she was reluctantly answering Sheppard's original question.
"How do we fix it?" Sheppard demanded.
"I must... release the compulsion," she replied.
"Ronon, bring McKay over here," Sheppard called. When they were standing around her, Sheppard said, "Do it!" He leaned in slightly. "And you better do it right."
She brought out a small disc that she held in front of Rodney. "Hold the disc and focus," she directed.
"Fucking hypnotism?" Rodney heard Sheppard mutter as he looked at the disc. He suddenly remembered it from last time. She had tried to pass it off as an Ancient artifact which Rodney had quickly dismissed. Looking at Offia, Rodney thought maybe it wasn't as quickly as he thought.
"He does not deserve you," Offia protested. "I hoped that if you were free of him that you would come back to me."
Sheppard stared. "Not in a million years," he breathed. "Especially after what you did to him."
Teyla put in, "I think we need to ask if someone else can negotiate with us on behalf of your people."
"We should just fix McKay and leave," Ronon stated baldly.
Offia blanched. "No... please," she stammered. "The children..."
"Which is why we will stay to talk and allow Dr. Beckett to finish his work," Teyla interrupted. "But we will send another team to pick up the tava beans and tormack."
"That is acceptable," Offia had to agree.
"Fix him!" John ordered.
Offia stood and reached out for Rodney's hand that held the disc. She held the hand so the disc sat in the middle of his palm, face-up and her hand cupping his, before she started talking in a low, pleasant voice and the words she was saying became indistinct. Rodney's vision narrowed and all he could see was the disc in his hand.
"Rodney?" John's voice was worried. "You okay, buddy?"
Rodney looked up. He was sitting on the ground for some reason. "What happened?" he asked.
"What do you remember?" John asked, cautiously.
"We're on... where are we?" Rodney drew a blank. He knew they weren't on Atlantis or on Lantea, the weather was too warm, so they had to be on a mission. He frowned. "I... I can't remember where we are. What's going on?" Rodney could hear the panic starting in his voice. "What happened to me?"
"Shhh...." John sat down next to him on the ground. "You're okay. I hope."
"You HOPE?" Rodney all but screeched.
John put a hand on Rodney's knee. "It's a long story," John said. "Trust me?" he said softly.
"I'm not dying, am I?" Rodney demanded.
"No, no," John gave a small grin. "I think you're fine."
"What happened?" Rodney asked, suddenly scared.
"I think... you were hypnotized," John started. "And... well, can we talk about it back on Atlantis? I want Beckett to look you over."
"I... I think I'd like that," Rodney agreed.
John stood and offered him a hand to get up. Rodney stood and looked around. The heat and the minimal clothing on the natives were a clue. "We're on... Xyrica?" he asked.
"Yes," John answered cautiously.
Rodney took a deep breath. "I don't remember..."
"Let's just get you home first," John said. "Ronon? Keep Rodney company until we're ready to go?"
"Sure," Ronon replied.
John went over to where Teyla was talking with the natives. Rodney shut his eyes in concentration, he almost remembered these people...
"Ready?" John's voice startled him.
"Yes," Rodney answered. He looked around at the group getting ready to leave. "Carson's here?"
"This is our second trip here," Teyla explained. "Dr. Beckett came to treat the children."
"I'd like to come back and take a look at some of the adults," Carson announced as he shouldered his pack. "They're relatively healthy but some of the elders need some attention."
"We can schedule that later," John said firmly. "I'd like to get back to Atlantis."
"Lead on," Carson waved a hand casually.
The walk to the Gate was uneventful and quiet. John kept Rodney within arm's reach, which Rodney found comforting for some reason. They dialed Atlantis and as soon as Chuck confirmed they were clear, went through the event horizon.
Rodney didn't hear what John told Woolsey but John quickly herded Rodney into the infirmary. "Do you mind if we wait for Carson?" John asked.
"John, what the fuck is going on?" Rodney demanded. "You're starting to scare me."
John sighed. "What day is today?"
"It's Thursday," Rodney shot back. He considered. "Yes, Thursday."
"It's Monday, Rodney," John said carefully.
Rodney stared. "It's Thursday...." He trailed off as John shook his head. "Wait, let me check the computer." Rodney dug his computer out of the backpack he had set down next to the bed. He powered it up and... "It's Monday!" he whispered. "John?"
"What do you remember of Xyrica?" John asked, maddeningly.
"First contact, hot weather, Ronon landed there once as a Runner and while they wouldn't take him in, they fed him and sent him on his way," Rodney recited. "We were going to see if we can trade for food, maybe even tormack. Probably no technology and next to nothing in the Ancient database."
"What do you remember about the mission?" John persisted.
"The MALP showed the Gate to be in a ravine so while we might have gotten a Jumper through, the option was to walk. Couple of miles in the hot sun and, well, I may have been vocal about that," Rodney replied. "The Xyricans met us outside their village. Dressed in next to nothing, which is appropriate for the climate. Their leader is some babe who instantly put her claws in you..." Rodney trailed off at that point.
"Anything else?" John asked carefully.
Rodney considered. There was something... "No?"
"Is that a question?" John gave a small smile.
"I think so. There's something nagging in the back of my head but it won't come together," Rodney reported and watched john frown at that.
Carson came into the area just then. "I understand you're waiting on me?" he asked, looking curiously between them.
John put his hands in his pockets and did that bouncing on his heels thing that he sometimes did when he was being careful about what he was saying. "I need you to look Rodney over carefully, please," John said. "I don't want to prejudice you by telling you what I suspect."
Carson looked startled for a second then said, "Yea, I can do that." He looked at Rodney, "Is it all right for Colonel Sheppard to be here?"
Rodney looked between them, Carson serious and John with a hopeful look. "Sure, I'll just tell him everything later," he shrugged. "Saves time."
John looked relieved at being allowed to stay.
"Sit over there, then," Carson directed. "I need you to stay out of the way while I do this."
Carson's exam was thorough but efficiently done.
"Everything looks fine," Carson reported. "No problems I can see at this point but I can have some more blood tests run if you think that's needed." It was as much a question as a statement.
John stood and came near the bed Rodney was sitting on.
"After we came back from Xyricka the first time," he acknowledged Rodney's start of surprise with a gesture to wait, "you were mostly okay but a little... off. But nothing in particular so I ignored it. Then... you started ignoring plans we made and whenever I'd remind you, you'd blow me off. 'Busy in the lab' was your biggest excuse, which I mostly went with because I know inspiration doesn't come on a schedule. Figured you were working on something big. Then..." John swallowed and took a deep breath. "Then, you picked a fight over... nothing. You accused me of flirting with one of the new lab techs when I barely knew who she was. You knew how to hit my hot buttons and soon enough we were yelling at each other and then... " – another deep breath – "you essentially broke up with me and moved out of our apartment."
"John!" Rodney exclaimed. "I... didn't..." He looked at the devastation in John's eyes and knew it had to be true.
"What happened?" Carson asked.
"I think Rodney was hypnotized on Xyricka," John explained. "When Offia saw Rodney today, she was.. smug is the only word I can think of that describes her attitude. Then she hit on me while Rodney was off working with her people to rig up a pump system for their water supply."
"I did that?" Rodney asked.
"You and Ronon did a pretty good job of it, especially since you had next to nothing to work with," John said.
"Ronon?" Rodney was surprised.
"What can I say?" John shrugged. "Carson asked for boiled water to sterilize stuff and to teach the Xyricans about sanitation, I suspect, and when you saw what they had to go through to get water from the river, you and Ronon pitched in and built some kind of a pump system."
"Huh," Rodney mused. "I... I don't remember any of that."
"Well, while Teyla and I were supposedly finalizing the trade deal, Offia kept trying to send Teyla off which, thank god, Teyla recognized for what it was. It wasn't until Offia started getting handsy that I realized what she was doing," John said. "I owe Teyla one for not abandoning me."
"Think I owe her one, too," Rodney added.
"Well, Offia started to get huffy and then Ronon flagged me over. What you were seeing wasn't what was happening and then I realized someone, most likely Offia, did something, somehow. She, well, once we persuaded her, confessed to using a disc of some sort to make you think things that weren't true."
"That explains a number of things," Carson interjected. "Rodney thought he ate breakfast and lunch the other day but probably didn't, playing into his hypoglycemia."
"And today? What happened?" Rodney asked.
"We... made her reverse it," John said grimly.
"I've lost, what? A week? A week of memories?" Rodney demanded.
"Rodney, I promise you," John said seriously. "There wasn't much about the last week you want to remember. You weren't... nice." A grimace. "Sorry."
Rodney felt himself pale. "John! What... what did I do?"
"Nothing that some explaining won't fix," John soothed. "You were mostly yourself in the labs, nothing special there. Just... mostly you and me."
"I... I'm sorry," Rodney whispered.
"Nothing to be sorry about," John assured him. "Just... glad to have you back."
"I... I don't know what to say," Rodney replied.
"I'd like to run those extra blood tests then," Carson put in. "Just to make sure there's nothing else wrong with you."
"Okay, okay," Rodney gave in quickly. He wanted to be clear of this and soon. Working with Carson instead of against him would help speed up the process.
"Come back later," Carson told John.
"Okay," John agreed. "Call me when you're done?"
"Aye," Carson replied.
Carson took blood and put monitor leads on Rodney. "I want some extended tests," he explained. "Lie back and let me get the information I need."
"Carson?" Rodney asked. "What are you looking for?"
"Everything, Rodney," Carson soothed. "Just want to check everything since you've been under some major stress for the last week. But I don't think there's anything to worry about."
"Huh, that's what you say now," Rodney huffed. But he lay back on the bed. He wished he had brought a laptop with him so he could work while the tests were run. But he had a couple of things he could work on in his head, so he did.
Carson came back after about an hour and said, "Everything looks good. You can go."
"John?" Rodney called on the radio. "Carson's letting me go."
"Be right there," John replied. "Five minutes."
"No problem," Rodney answered.
John arrived in the promised five minutes. "Ready?" he asked.
"Been waiting for you," Rodney replied.
"Let's get some dinner," John suggested. "I suspect we can both use some food."
"Sure," Rodney agreed.
It was meatloaf, pasta and vegetables for dinner with something that resembled cake for dessert. They ate in comfortable silence.
"Go back to the room?" John asked somewhat tentatively.
Rodney gave a small shrug. "Sure," he replied. He wanted to be someplace private for the next part of the conversation.
Rodney looked around their apartment. They had moved into a real apartment when it became available, pulling rank to get a two bedroom unit with a balcony. Over time they had scrounged furniture from other parts of the city.
Rodney dropped in 'his' chair, sitting opposite John.
"I... I don't know what to say," Rodney stuttered.
"It wasn't you," John said. "But... it was hard."
"I don't doubt that," Rodney replied, feeling helpless. "I don't know how to fix it."
"That's just it," John's voice held a level of frustration. "You shouldn't have to fix anything. It's as much my problem as yours."
"But I picked the fight with you!" Rodney protested.
"Under the influence of that fucking bitch!" John shot back heatedly.
Rodney sat back for a moment. He chuffed a small breath. "We're doing it again, you know," he observed calmly.
John looked startled then grinned. "We are, aren't we?"
Rodney stood up, "Shower?" He knew it was the right thing to do when John's eyes darkened in anticipation.
"I could be... talked in to it," John drawled.
"Chop, chop," Rodney said briskly. "Come on." He turned toward the bathroom.
"Okay, you talked me into it," John laughed, following him.
Rodney dropped his t-shirt into the basket in the corner of the bathroom. He stared at the basket for a moment. He looked at John. "I had clothes... in another room."
John came close and put a hand on Rodney's shoulder. "You did," John said softly. "I took the liberty to move everything back. I... I wanted you here."
"No, no," Rodney stuttered. "It's okay, just... it triggered the memory."
"Remember anything else?" John asked.
"Not really," Rodney admitted but frowned. There was something... "No. Nothing."
John turned him around and came close. A light kiss brought Rodney's attention back to John. He reached around and snugged himself close, John held Rodney tight.
"I missed this," John admitted. "Just... us."
"Sorry," Rodney whispered into John's skin. John tightened his hold for a moment.
"Shower," John said, letting go.
"Shower," Rodney agreed.
The shower was interestingly chaste. John scrubbed Rodney's back, which always felt good. They were both hard by the time they were done but Rodney had himself mostly under control. He didn't want this to be fast... he wanted to make it last.
"Come to bed," Rodney held a hand out as John finished toweling his hair. John slung the towel over the rod and took Rodney's hand.
John had obviously turned down the bed earlier, an optimistic move Rodney approved of. Standing next to the bed, he brought John close, skin touching skin.
"This, this I remember," Rodney whispered against John's lips. His hands settled on John's hips, familiar and comfortable. He leaned in for a kiss, John opening up to him.
"Let's get comfortable," John said after a few moments.
Rodney dropped on the bed and eased back to let John join him.
"What do you want?" John asked as he climbed in next to Rodney.
"Let me..." Rodney rolled John on his back. He straddled John's hips and captured John's hands, placing them above his head on the headboard. "Leave them there."
Rodney eased down the bed, ignoring John's bobbing cock, touching skin and massaging long, lean muscles. He got to the end of the bed and lifted John's left foot. He dug his thumbs into the bottom of John's foot, making John groan.
"Oh," John gave a small gasp as Rodney hit a bundle of nerves. John closed his eyes as Rodney worked over the entire foot.
Setting the one foot down, Rodney gently lifted the other, giving it the same thorough treatment. By the time he was done, the only part of John that hadn't relaxed into a puddle was John's cock which bobbed almost lazily on his stomach. Rodney crawled back up John's body, swiping his tongue gently along the length of John's cock.
"Come here," John reached out for Rodney, pulling on his shoulders.
Rodney went willingly, settling between John's legs. John put his hands on Rodney's ass, snugging them together.
"This I remember," Rodney said. "Touching you, you touching..." He leaned in for a kiss and shimmied his hips slightly. They both groaned as their cocks rubbed together.
"Like this," John said. "Together."
Rodney could feel the orgasm coil low in his belly. "Just bit more..." he gasped.
John held them tightly together, the friction just a hair away from being painful -- but in a good way. John groaned and stiffened, Rodney felt wet heat as his own orgasm hit.
"John!" Rodney gasped.
"So good," John replied, panting slightly.
Rodney lay on top of John, relaxing but aware of his weight on the other man. When he found a couple of functional brain cells, he kissed John and eased himself up. He padded to the bathroom, pissed and roughly cleaned himself up. He brought a warm washcloth back and cleaned John up as John watched from sleepy eyes.
He dropped the washcloth over the side of the bed where they wouldn't trip over it in the morning. They wrestled the blankets around them and John curled around Rodney.
John pressed a kiss into his shoulder. "Missed you," he whispered.
"Anything... happens again," Rodney said. "Check for evil priestesses."
John gave a small chuckle. "Deal."
"Sleep," Rodney said.
So they did.
ladyamarra asked for: Rodney/John. Rodney being his usual charming self and John being John. Loving between the two. Established relationship or a first time, a little whumpage and maybe a alien priestess shaking up the mix. Jealous!Rodney. Genderbender stories with one of them getting a girl for a while.
Title from Emily Dickinson Part One: Life
REMORSE is memory awake,
Her companies astir,—
A presence of departed acts
At window and at door.
Its past set down before the soul,
And lighted with a match,
Perusal to facilitate
Of its condensed despatch.
Remorse is cureless, —the disease
Not even God can heal;
For ’t is His institution,—
The complement of hell.